Want a raise? Here's how to give yourself one


Want a raise? Here's how to give yourself one

Published 5/16/14

Want a raise? Here's how to give yourself one By Holly Johnson

The latest Survey of Consumer Expectations from the New York Fed predicted that American's wages will rise an average of 2.4 percent over the next year. Unfortunately, prices have risen 2 percent in the last 12 months, spiking 0.3 percent in April alone -- the highest monthly rate of inflation so far in 2014.

So let's face it: Until wage increases climb higher, rising prices could keep American wages effectively flat for the foreseeable future. That's the bad news.

The good news is, you don't have to wait for the economy to turn around to give yourself a big, fat raise. In fact, simply cutting your spending can accomplish the same thing by freeing up extra cash for savings, investments or that vacation you've been dreaming of. You cannot control the labor market, rising inflation or the rest of the economy, but you do have control over how you actually spend your hard-earned paycheck. If you want truly want a raise and believe you deserve it, it might be time to take matters into your own hands.

This type of raise isn't the kind you ask your boss for. It's the kind you take for yourself -- simply by reducing your spending and keeping the difference. Want to cut your spending and earn an effective raise in the process? Here's how to do it in five steps:

Read the full article »

How smart wedding spending can lift your credit

Published 5/8/14

How smart wedding spending can lift your credit By Justin Boyle

With a lot of my friends getting married over the last year or so, I've heard all sorts of nightmare stories about planning and paying for weddings. The sheer fiscal magnitude of it all has made some of them wonder whether it isn't too late to elope.

With a little credit savvy though, juggling the big numbers on your wedding balance sheet can leave you with a boost to your credit score that may come in handy with your next mortgage lender (among other future creditors). Here are some guidelines for making your wedding spending work for you.

Free up some space

Although exact cost figures can vary widely from city to city, the average outlay for a wedding in the U.S. in 2014 was more than $28,600, according to WeddingStats.org.

Read the full article »

So you've missed a payment: Now what?

Published 5/7/14  (Modified 5/8/14)

So you've missed a payment: Now what? By Georgie Miller

So, your finances are a little tight this month. You're probably worried and wondering what to do. Perhaps you've investigated all of your last-ditch solutions for cash emergencies, but you're still going to come up short on an obligation or two. What happens next?

What happens to your credit score when you miss a payment

Payment history comprises 35 percent of your credit score, according to myFICO.com. This is the biggest single factor in your FICO score! The next most heavily weighted category is amounts owed, at 30 percent of your score.

Since payment history is such a significant component of your FICO score, missing payments can cause quite a dip in your rating. Fortunately, if the rest of your credit history is positive, then one or two missed payments shouldn't spell disaster.

Read the full article »

3 last-ditch solutions for cash emergencies

Published 4/28/14

3 last-ditch solutions for cash emergencies By Peter Andrew

Been there, done that, got the bills for overdraft fees. I know some readers will look down their noses at me for my bad financial planning, but a whole lot of others will know all too well that nauseous, sinking feeling when the realization dawns: This month's money simply won't stretch until payday.

It's only human to panic in such situations, but panicky people often make dumb choices. So the first things to do are sit down, calm down and think the situation through. Here are three options that may, depending on your personal circumstances, be open to you:

1. Borrow from friends, family or your employer

This may be the most excruciatingly embarrassing option, but it's usually the one that makes the most financial sense.

Read the full article »

Review: Synchrony Bank Optimizer Plus

Published 4/25/14  (Modified 6/6/14)

By Holly Johnson

Ever since I opened my first checking account at the age of 18, I've used a brick-and-mortar bank. I hope I'm not aging myself too much, but that really was the only option at the time. The Internet did actually exist then (it was 1998), but online banks weren't on the scene quite yet. And, believe it or not, Facebook, Google and Twitter didn't exist either. Now I feel old.

But times have changed. Bank transactions are becoming increasingly digital and the bank branch is becoming a bit of a dinosaur. Sure, people still use them, but for many, it's not a primary banking source. In fact, almost everyone I know uses online banking because of how easy it is to make electronic transfers, track their savings and spending and shop for financial products with the click of the button. Everyone but me, of course.

However, some online banks have recently given me reason to consider some new possibilities. In fact, one online bank, Synchrony Bank Optimizer Plus almost has me convinced. Here's why.

About Synchrony Bank Optimizer Plus

Optimizer Plus is an online bank that is backed up by Synchrony Bank -- formerly known as GE Capital Retail Bank -- and its 80 years of experience in consumer banking.

Read the full article »

Health care sharing ministries: An alternative to Obamacare?

Published 4/15/14

Health care sharing ministries: An alternative to Obamacare? By Holly Johnson

The first open enrollment period for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, has come to a close, and a reported 7.1 million new enrollees are currently settling into their new health insurance plans.

Now that open enrollment is over, Americans who chose not to purchase a plan must pay the greater of $95 or 1 percent of their net income in 2014. There are only a handful of ways for individuals to escape this mandate, and they include certain exemptions based on citizenship status, income and hardship. Another little known fact: Families can also avoid the individual mandate by joining a recognized health care sharing ministry.

What is a health care sharing ministry?

Health care sharing ministries work much like their name suggests. Individuals who join a ministry pay a monthly share or pledge that is then distributed to someone in the ministry who is experiencing a health care need.

Read the full article »